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Mt. Carmel - Princeton Free Bridge

Mt. Carmel Bridge

   


Mt. Carmel - Princeton Free Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 4, 2009
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Walnut Street (IL-15 and IN-64) Over Wabash River
Location
Mt. Carmel: Wabash County, Illinois and Gibson County, Indiana
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1932 By Builder/Contractor: Vincennes Bridge Company of Vincennes, Indiana and Engineer/Design: Illinois Division of Highways

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1991
Main Span Length
227.7 Feet (69.4 Meters)
Structure Length
2726 Feet (830.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
22 Feet (6.7 Meters)
Spans
12 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This Bridge No Longer Exists!

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View The Illinois NBI Sheet (Compare to the Indiana NBI Sheet Above)

This historic bridge was demolished February 2011, despite not being in the way of its replacement!

This twelve span through truss bridge appears to be among the longest simple-spanning multiple span through truss highway bridges remaining in existence in both Indiana and Illinois, and perhaps ranks among the top in that category nationwide. As such, the bridge is historically and technologically significant as a major engineering achievement and an impressive example of how long bridges were construction during the period. Also right after this bridge is Maucks Pond Bridge. Although separate bridges, they should be considered a single historic resource.

Indiana and Illinois both decided that the best way to deal with such a beautiful and historically significant bridge is to demolish the Mt. Carmel Bridge. Maucks Pond Bridge is being replaced too. Such a decision is a clear display of how broken both surface transportation and historic preservation policy truly is in the United States. Since a new bridge is under construction on a new alignment, the historic bridge is not in the way of anything. There is absolutely no reason or point  to waste money demolishing this bridge!

It is shameful enough that Indiana / INDOT would consider demolishing this historic bridge, however Illinois / IDOT is actually the lead agency for this state line bridge, which makes it even more appalling. Illinois has far less historic truss bridges than most states in the Midwest and Northeastern United States, and as such an extremely rare and significant multi-span bridge like this should be preserved without hesitation. As for Indiana, while the state has overall shown a strong commitment to historic bridge preservation, particularly on the local level, two points bear consideration. First, while locally owned bridges have been preserved, INDOT owned bridges (which include the majority of historic massive member state standard truss bridges in Indiana) are not being preserved. Second, preservation of historic bridges elsewhere does not excuse demolition of a particular bridge. Each bridge should be evaluated for preservation feasibility with common sense. In this case, with the new bridge constructed next to its replacement out of the way of the historic bridge, demolishing this historic bridge serves no other purpose than to destroy history, waste taxpayer dollars, and fill the pockets of scrap steel companies who get to cash in on historic bridge tragedies such as this.

What should be done instead? The bridge is currently safe for vehicular traffic and has no extremely serious problems, and as such, the bridge could likely stand next to its replacement either for pedestrian use or completely abandoned as a historic relic, for decades to come even without preservation work done on it. As such, the bridge should be left standing next to its replacement. The money that would have been used to demolish the bridge could be used to make repairs to the worst conditions on the bridge.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

Statement of Significance

The current bridge replaced a long-used ferry crossing of the Wabash. Although not exceptional from a national perspective, the design of the trusses varies in many secondary ways from the IDH's patterns. The spans and the structure, though, are quite long by Indiana standards. A prolific Hoosier builder manufactured the trusses. Aside from contemporary guardrails, the bridge appears to retain all its original members.

Architectural Description

The Mt. Carmel-Princeton Bridge Company filed articles of incorporation with the Indiana Secretary of State in January 1927 to build a toll bridge across the Wabash River "if it is impossible to secure adequate bridge construction in Indiana out of public funds." The State of Illinois took the initiative in responding to the hint and, in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Highways, designed a twelve-span Parker through-truss structure of 2,700'. The Vincennes Bridge Company built and erected the trusses upon a concrete substructure for about $400,000.

Each of the riveted 225' spans is divided into ten panels. The top chord parallels the lower one in the two center panels. Otherwise, each top chord segment has a different scope. The outer verticals were fabricated from two pairs of angles riveted together with battens. Laced channels supply the inner verticals. All the diagonals and counters (used only in the two most central panels) are made from four angles and battens. The lower chord members are built like the diagonals, except that stiffening plates have been added in all except the outer two panels. Substantial portal and wind bracing support the trusses. The heavy I floor beams are riveted to the verticals at and above the lower chord and carry the 22' concrete roadway.

ALTERATIONS: 1960: Vertical Repair 198?: Reinforcement Bars Added, Paint, Overlay

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photos and Videos: Mt. Carmel - Princeton Free Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

 
View Photo Gallery
2010 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
2010 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2009 Rainy Day Visit
Original / Full Size Photos
Includes views from southwest quadrant and views of the plaque. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
2009 Rainy Day Visit
Mobile Optimized Gallery
Includes views from southwest quadrant and views of the plaque. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Video
Westbound Crossing of the Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Eastbound Crossing of the Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Westbound On Bridge Including Maucks Pond Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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